Ear wax is healthy and part of our immune system It is there to protect our ears. I do not condone the sticking a cotton bud into your ear as that can be dangerous. But what the heck is ear wax anyway? And how can we clean it up?
The ear wax that is naturally produced by your body helps to clean, protect, and lubricate your ears. But ear wax sometimes builds up excessively, and if it does, you may want to turn to methods of ear wax removal.
Ear wax, also called cerumen, is a sticky, shiny substance produced by the wax glands located in the outer part of your ear canal, the canal that separates the fleshy outer ear from the inner ear. Ear wax is 20 to 50% fat, and it coats the ear canal to moisturize it, fight off infection, and help keep dust, dirt, and other debris from getting deep inside your ear. Most people make enough ear wax, but if you have too little ear wax, your ears can become dry, itchy, and prone to infection.
Although the reason is unknown, some people produce more ear wax than others. In some cases, excessive ear wax can accumulate in the ear canal and cause symptoms including:
A feeling of fullness in the ear
A plugged sensation in the ear
Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
Discharge coming out of the ear
How can we clean up too much ear wax?
Many people practice ear wax removal as part of their personal hygiene routine. Some people probe their ear canals with cotton swabs, hair pins, or other objects in an attempt to clean excess ear wax. But if done incorrectly, at home ear cleaning can actually push wax deeper into your ear canal, block your ear drum, cause irritation of the ear canal, or cause your eardrum to rupture.
To safely clean your ears at home, use a cloth to wipe and wash the fleshy external part of your ear, but avoid putting anything into your ear canal. In some cases, putting a few drops of mineral or baby oil, glycerin, hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, or over the counter ear cleaning drops into your ear can help to soften and remove excessive ear wax. It's best to avoid using cotton swabs or other probing objects for at home ear cleaning.